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The Morning Routine


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Featured on
15 September, 2009

overparentingThe morning routine has long been one of the “challenging” times in the life of a family. We’ve all had those mornings when kids don’t want to get out of bed, they find their clothes “just aren’t right”, or maybe their breakfast lacks appeal and all these moments add up to power struggles, stress and a bumpy start to the day. As parents, we understand that the morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day, so it is important to start on the right foot.

Parenting On Track™ offers families access to proactive, sustainable, age-independent strategies to help you parent from your best – which, inevitably, brings out the best in your child. Grounded in teaching “long-term-sustainable-solutions,” the program teaches parents how to support children as they implement and practice life skills that will help them maneuver their way from childhood through adolescence into young adulthood with confidence and enthusiasm. The fundamental principles of Parenting On Track™ focus on training and the understanding that parenting is a journey and there are no quick fixes.

However, there are things we, as parents, can do right away that have a significant impact on the attitudes of our children as they start their days, face daily challenges and navigate their lives, regardless of whether those challenges are deciding what to have for breakfast, standardized state tests, or a fight with their BFF.

Here are a few simple tips that will remind your kids that you believe in them and love them – this, of course, translates into a relaxed, confident and enthusiastic kid. You know, a kid with a “can do” attitude, the one who enters school with a smile, a swagger and a “bring it on” look in his or her eyes.

1. Appreciation:

Identify specific character traits in your child that you admire and make an observation about one every morning.

Imagine being greeted each morning by someone who clearly knows you and appreciates you.

These appreciations might sound something like:

  • You always wake up in a good mood.
  • You are such a curious kid.
  • You can make your mom and I smile even when we are upset about something.
  • You are incredibly patient with your siblings.

2. Participation:

Invite your children to do more for themselves.

Imagine being treated like a capable, competent person by the people most important to you – your parents.

Try some or all of these suggestions:

  • If you have been getting them up, ask them if they want to get an alarm clock and get up on their own.
  • If you have been making their breakfast, ask them if they want to make pancakes with you this morning.
  • If you nag them to get ready, try being quiet and see what happens.

3. Connection:

  • Create a final connection with your kids in the evening.
  • Have faith in your children and show them that no matter what happens – you love them.
  • Ask questions that are relaxed and open ended (and not about the upcoming test.)
  • Sit quietly at the bottom of the bed and tell them you just want to hang out with them for a few more minutes.
  • Do something unexpected (like paint toenails, or give a back scratch.)
  • Create a positive affirmation together.

By utilizing these three strategies – Appreciation, Participation and Connection – on a regular basis with your children, you can eliminate some the current challenges you face each morning and replace them with a smooth routine that will have all of you out the door on time and ready to face the day.

For more information on inviting your children into the process of orchestrating a smooth morning routine, see our Parenting On Track™Home Program details.

  1. Sarah Webb says:

    What do you do when they ignore and or don’t wake up with the alarm? We’ve been try to use an alarm to wake up our daughter and it doesn’t wake her up. We’ve tried several different setting like beeping or static. We even have one of those fancy alarms that makes a bunch of different noises, like a thunder storm and waves, but none of wake her. So I am still waking her up in the morning. The only other option I can see is to just let her sleep. But lateness doesn’t seem to bother her. What are my options?
    Thanks, Sarah

  2. Vicki says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Good question. If kids seem resistant to alarm clocks – and it seems clear that your little one is – then waking them up is a reasonable option. Sometimes young kids are so deep in the sleep cycle that they really don’t hear all the bells and whistles.

    The goal is to continue to invite your kids to take on more and more responsibility for themselves as well as create healthy habits and routines.

    My sense is you are making a sincere effort to turn the “wake up” over to her, but she just isn’t ready yet.

    Keep the alarm clock in there, talk with her about the morning routine and then, when it won’t matter if she oversleeps and misses school, or a party or an outing, she can experience the consequence without being overly upset.

    Remember, the goal isn’t for the kids to suffer, it’s for them to experience life with as little interruption from their parents as possible.


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